This sermon was based on Mark 8:1-21.
Jesus Feeds the Four Thousand
1In those days, when again a great crowd had gathered, and they had nothing to eat, he called his disciples to him and said to them, 2″I have compassion on the crowd, because they have been with me now three days and have nothing to eat. 3And if I send them away hungry to their homes, they will faint on the way. And some of them have come from far away.” 4And his disciples answered him, “How can one feed these people with bread here in this desolate place?” 5And he asked them, “How many loaves do you have?” They said, “Seven.” 6And he directed the crowd to sit down on the ground. And he took the seven loaves, and having given thanks, he broke them and gave them to his disciples to set before the people; and they set them before the crowd. 7And they had a few small fish. And having blessed them, he said that these also should be set before them. 8And they ate and were satisfied. And they took up the broken pieces left over, seven baskets full. 9And there were about four thousand people. And he sent them away. 10And immediately he got into the boat with his disciples and went to the district of Dalmanutha.
The Pharisees Demand a Sign
11The Pharisees came and began to argue with him, seeking from him a sign from heaven to test him. 12And he sighed deeply in his spirit and said, “Why does this generation seek a sign? Truly, I say to you, no sign will be given to this generation.” 13And he left them, got into the boat again, and went to the other side.
The Leaven of the Pharisees and Herod
14Now they had forgotten to bring bread, and they had only one loaf with them in the boat. 15And he cautioned them, saying, “Watch out; beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.” 16And they began discussing with one another the fact that they had no bread. 17And Jesus, aware of this, said to them, “Why are you discussing the fact that you have no bread? Do you not yet perceive or understand? Are your hearts hardened? 18Having eyes do you not see, and having ears do you not hear? And do you not remember? 19When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you take up?” They said to him, “Twelve.” 20″And the seven for the four thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you take up?” And they said to him, “Seven.” 21And he said to them, “Do you not yet understand?”
Jesus is ‘Big Picture’
- Jesus is moved deep within his guts. It’s not feeling sorry, it’s a deep compassion for people who have been with him for 3 days. Some have travelled far, some look like they might faint. They are desperate to stay and not to miss out. They haven’t eaten.
- 5000 were in Israel – Jewish people. 4000 were gentiles. Again Jesus shows – he’s here for the whole world – his compassion/love is for all humanity.
- He wants his disciples to be ‘big picture’ as well – they will become just that.
The Disciples See Only What is in Front of Them
The disciples ask ‘how?’. There is a tension here. They have seen this before, Jesus’ amazing provision, but they seem to have forgotten.
Jesus fed 5000 – walked on water – climbed into the boat – the disciples were astounded – but their hearts were hardened.
This is a key discipleship moment but the disciples don’t understand and so they retreat.
Jesus Stretches Their Vision
- It’s fascinating how Jesus takes charge here – when feeding the 5000 the disciples were more involved. This time its a picture of Jesus getting things done – regardless of the faith levels of disciples – he still takes their bread – he still multiplies beyond the bounds of logic. Mark is often described as a Gospel of action not theology, here there is a clear explanation of how God works through and in the universe – often in spite of his people. Yet he is desperate for us to fulfil the role he meant us for.
- Pharisees turn up to confront – this is not a fact finding mission – this is an attack. Contrast this to the Syrophoenician woman – she was a gentile – she was a woman – demonised daughter – total outsider – any other Jewish teacher would have thrown her out. She threw herself at Jesus feet – humility and belief. Pharisees come in a group, like an army going to defeat an enemy.
- This is a picture of unbelief – unbelief is different to doubt. Doubt approaches God with questions – genuinely searches for truth. Unbelief approaches God to attack, asks God why he doesn’t do what we want.
- Jesus is always working on us – to make us like him – to prepare us for the work he has for us. He does it in the simple moments – uses fish and bread – in the mundane-ness of life. Jesus doesn’t magic up an extravagant feast – he provides the standard diet of Israel – fish and bread. In the normality of life – Jesus calls us to believe in him and trust him.